NIH gives grant for chemical weapon countermeasure development

Two New Jersey universities have received a $23.2 million grant from the National Institute of Health to continue research for a drug to counteract chemical warfare agents.
Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School began the program to protect the country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by developing countermeasures for weaponized chemicals, the Daily Targum reports.
"We could be attacked by dirty bombs with radiological or nuclear material, biological material like anthrax or something…and chemicals," Jeffrey Laskin, a professor of environmental and occupational medicine at RWJMS, said, according to the Daily Targum. "It's our job to figure out the chemicals that terrorists might use and try to figure out how they work [so we can] overcome them."
The researchers design experiments, conducted with private organizations that are authorities to work with chemical weapons like Batelle Laboratories in Ohio, which then send samples back to the schools for analysis to figure out how to best move forward with the drugs.
"We're hopeful we'll be able to develop a drug in the next few years," Laskin said, according to the Daily Targum. "It's a very difficult problem to solve but we're making progress and understanding how [the chemicals] work and coming up with leads to [take] to the Food and Drug Administration."
Researchers are optimistic that they will find a solution to protect individuals from chemical warfare agents.
"We've had great progress," Laskin said, according to the Daily Targum. "We're very optimistic that we can move forwards and identify and pursue new drug leads, and we're optimistic that we can help this country if there's some incident that comes along in the future."